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Utah Basketball: Runnin' Utes Rally Behind Seniors to beat Colorado Buffaloes, 57-55

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Senior night is emotional for a lot of people, including players, coaches and fans. As Utah honored the senior class that has turned around the Utah basketball program, it was surreal to say goodbye to Jordan Loveridge, Brandon Taylor, Dakari Tucker, and probably Jakob Poeltl. As with it is with emotional games, rhythms can be thrown off, and that's what appeared to happen for the Utes, and the Buffs, as the teams opened up to shoot 15-of-61 in the first half. Yeah, it was ugly, and CU took an ugly one point lead into halftime, 21-20. In that first half, Utah shot 27% from the floor, and 14% from 3. It was bad.

Things started to look much worse in the second half, as CU got on a roll, while Utah continued to falter, sparking a 16-0 run giving them a 14 point lead with 8:15 remaining in the game. Utah looked lifeless, and it almost appeared like they were going to throw in the towel. Then, as a former player from Provo once said, "magic happened." It started with Brandon Taylor going 1-of-2 from the free throw line, and on the miss, Poeltl got the rebound and found Loveridge, who was awful up until that point. J-Love proceeded to bank in his first three of the game, cutting the lead from 13 to 10. That was followed up by a steal and a layup to cut the lead to 8. It was a 6-0 run in a matter of seconds, and the Huntsman Center came alive, as did the Utes. From that point on, Utah was off to the races, and went on to go on a 19-0 run to take a 50-45 lead. Much of the run was aided by free throws, which showed Utah's increased aggression over the final 8 minutes of the game. Utah went on to outscore CU 26-10 to close the game, and stifled CU's big guys in the paint. Poeltl's 5 blocks represent the difficulty that the Buffs had in the paint trying to get to the basket, and he altered many other shots.

That 19-0 run was primarily led by Utah's seniors, and their star center. Loveridge, Taylor and Dakari Tucker were all on the floor to close the gam, and they all played key roles. Whether it was Loveridge's threes, Taylor's free throws or steals, or Tucker's block, they all had a hand in the win. This game actually played out similar to those senior's careers, starting ugly and slow, while trying to stay above water, and finally breaking through and getting the win.

Utah Run Chart v CU

Look at the runs! CU is the yellow line, Utah is blue.

Poeltl and Lorenzo Bonam led the Utes with 16 points a piece, while Jakob pitched in 13 rebounds and 5 blocks. Taylor had 11 points, with 8 coming from the free throw line. Loveridge had 10 of his own, but had 2 of the biggest threes of the night.

CU was led by Tre'Shaun Fletcher's 12 points and Josh Scott's 11. Scott did go 3-of-13 on the night, and had some serious issues with Poeltl's size in the paint.

Now the Utes go into the Pac-12 Tournament as the 2-seed, and will face off with either UCLA or USC on Thursday night. In the possible 2/3 matchup in the semis, Utah could take on Cal. Frankly, avoiding Arizona and Oregon until the possible Pac-12 championship game is probably a best case scenario for the Utes.

What a Senior Night it was, and one Utah fans will never forget.

Thank you, J-Love, Dakari, BT, and yes, probably Jakob. See you in the tournament.

Post game audio:

Coach K Post CU Win

Jordan Loveridge and Jakob Poeltl Post CU Coach K Post CU Win